Is Your Fear Monster Messing With You?
Last week I arrived at a networking event and I was immediately asked to sign a birthday card for a friend. While signing the card, it felt like I had accidentally written on my face. I asked the gal sitting next me to check to see if there was ink on my face. After careful examination she replied, “No.”
Over the course of the event, and even afterwards, not a soul mentioned the lovely ink on my face. And having previously been given confirmation the ink was not there, I never gave it a second thought. While brushing my teeth when I got home I glanced in the mirror and low and behold there was a bold ink mark smack on my cheek staring back at me!
Totally unaware, I cheerfully went on like nothing was amiss during the entire event. Fear is a little like that ink mark – it’s out in the open for everyone to see, but most of the time we are the last ones to tune into how fear is driving our choices. And few will spill the news to you!
Wouldn’t it be amazing to be fearless? Fear is naturally limiting, and not in a good way like a healthy boundary.
We’ve all dealt with fear. Not the kind of fear where your heart races when you see the flashing lights in your rear view mirror or when you face a difficult diagnosis, although the kind of fear I’m talking about makes those moments much worse! The kind of fear I’m talking about pops up unexpectedly. Sometimes it leaves you with a “yucky” or sad feeling and you never even click into the fact that fear, or your Fear Monster as I like to refer to it, is behind those feelings. It causes you to react in strange ways that often bring you face to face with the very thing you were desperately attempting to avoid.
Just like everyone else, you have a Fear Monster. I’ve shared previously on how you can identify your Fear Monster. And I have shared how it affects the morale of those you lead. I’ve even shared some of the sneaky ways your Fear Monster might be playing out in your life. Believe it or not, there are actually more ways that fear might be messing with you.
Here are a few more you might recognize. Your Fear Monster might be messing with you if you are…
1. Bouncing Around Like a Pin Ball
Behaving like a pin ball that’s bouncing around from one thing to another without successfully completing anything, or, at best, a small percentage of what you set out to do, is a clue that fear might be driving you.
If that image doesn’t resonate with you, think squirrel: darting here and there and chasing the next shiny object. Distraction after distraction with very little focus.
When you commit to something and see it through, you run the risk of failing. When it comes to fear, failure ranks high. No one likes to fail. Failure has a way of confirming the lie you are trying to avoid.
2. NOT Yourself
Ever find yourself in a situation where you wonder later why you acted the way you did – it just wasn’t you? Do you find yourself needing to become a different person with certain groups of people or certain environments? Odds are, your Fear Monster is messing with you by convincing you that who you are is not enough, is wrong, doesn’t matter, or fill in the blank with your particular Fear Monster. In order to compensate for the falsehoods your Fear Monster is whispering to you, you act in ways that are inauthentic. That typically leads to the very thing you were attempting to dodge.
3. Engaging in Crazy Conflict
Do you have repeated conflicts with someone in your life? Conflict has a way of rousing your Fear Monster, and when you respond out of fear, you will likely trigger the other person’s Fear Monster. When Fear Monsters battle, conflict is inevitable…and unending! When it’s all over, none of it makes sense unless you view it through the context of the Fear Monster. This craziness happens most with those closest to you.
The first fight of any significance that my husband and I had many moons ago demonstrates this well. After we were married, everything had been going swimmingly until it came down to where in the kitchen the Coffee Mate would be stored in our apartment. My husband wanted it to go with the coffee cups so it would be convenient. I wanted it to go in a cupboard with other food items. Looking back, there is a reasonable rationale for both options, but the fight wasn’t really about that. It was a Fear Monster battle! Demanding that the Coffee Mate be stored with the food implied to my husband that where he wanted it stored was wrong. His unwillingness to consider my option of keeping it with the food made me feel like I didn’t matter.
Just for the record – the Coffee Mate was stored with the coffee cups. Today…we skip the Coffee Mate and prefer a healthier choice: bulletproof coffee – his with the butter and minus the butter for dairy-free me!
4. Operating at Your Expense
Scripture tells us to love others, but somehow we skip over the part about doing it the way we love ourselves. That implies that you treat yourself in loving ways. There is no arguing – sometimes love is very sacrificial! It all boils down to motive. What’s driving your “love”? Are you attempting to earn someone’s love, prove your worth, make sure you aren’t seen as selfish, or any number of other Fear Monster motivated reasons for operating at your own expense.
Love others as well as you love yourself. Matthew 22:39b (MSG)
We justify our actions by appearances; God examines our motives. Proverbs 21:2 (MSG)
5. Seeking Validation
Getting wise counsel – that’s smart. Seeking validation from others – not so smart. Your identity is most solid when it’s based on what the One who created you has to say. Allowing your worth or your choices to rest on the opinion of others is a precarious place to be. You have insecurities – we all do! Your Fear Monster likes to bring them to your attention whenever he can.
The quickest way to whittle away your life to nothing, and let your Fear Monster have free reign, is trying to please others and needing their validation.
6. Investing in the Wrong Things
We have powerful resources to invest in our lives: time and money. There are all kinds of ways to fritter away both your time; Social media, TV watching, game playing, Googling anything that comes to mind. These things aren’t bad in and of themselves, but the return they provide – next to nil! It’s not any different with money. When was the last time you skipped the little stuff – a coffee here, or a movie there, so that you could invest in something that would truly benefit your life and yield worthwhile dividends? You are worth it, and in order to get where you want to be, to fully walk in who God’s called you to be, you might just have to invest in yourself and in others.
If you saw yourself in any of the six ways I just mentioned, here’s the good news: it’s possible to face your Fear Monster! He doesn’t have to be in control! In order to do that you must…
- Identify your Fear Monster
- A – Increase your AWARENESS so that you notice when he’s messing with you
- B – Intentionally pause…BREATHE
- C – CHOOSE to lean into who God created you to be!
While those steps are simple, they take practice, practice, and relying on God to effectively stare your Fear Monster down! In fact, without God in the process, facing your Fear Monster probably won’t happen.